While the approaching Supermoon—the first since 1948—loomed large on the horizon, last week's run of swell left some California surfers reeling as some enjoyed the biggest, best conditions all fall, while others were feeling a little, well, like lunatics. “This last swell was a lot of smoke and mirrors,” says Southern California-based photographer Myles McGuinness. “Some places were all time, while others, not so much. Don't get me wrong, there were certainly some nuggets to be found: there was plenty of swell and some perfect conditions, but it took some luck, and timing was everything. Picking the right wave, the right tide, and location was key. One thing was for sure, though: people were dusting off the step-up boards for the first swell of the season.” Photo: McGuinness.
Title Image: Pompermayer

Photo: McGuinness

Photo: McGuinness

Ryan Burch, autumn experimentation in San Diego's North County. Photo: Henderson

Photo: Tull

Mavs: a touch smaller than the November 9th swell, and with plenty of room to share.
Photo: Burgess

Well worth the burning shoulders in Northern California. Photo: Burgess

An overheard view of last weekend's November treadmill. Photo: Bernard

Lucas Chicana paid his dues at Mavericks for almost two weeks, but couldn't pass on the chance to bolt south to take on another notorious underwater west coast canyon. Photo: Pompermayer

Chicana and Pedro "Scooby" Boonman. Photo: Pompermayer

A pack of chargers, scrambling for a safer perspective. Photo: Pompermayer

“I was just with Dylan Jones, an L.A. county lifeguard and legendary surfer, who grew up in Southern California,” says photographer Matt Catalano. “ He said he couldn’t remember a November this large and consistent. Plus, it’s been summer weather with winter swell." Photo: Catalano

Photo: Catalano

“I was en route to Hawaii, but was visiting friends in San Francisco,” says Catalano. “I saw the swell forecast and cancelled my plans for Hawaii to document the swell from Mavericks to Baja. Early Wednesday morning, we crossed the border to Mexico before first light and decided to check a beach break on the way. When we pulled up at sunrise, it was already easily double overhead and growing." Photo: Catalano

Photo: Catalano

“That morning was warmer than normal,” says Catalano. “No fog, a light offshore, Santa Ana flow. But in Baja, it was howling offshore, sand whipping hard. We saw Damien Hobgood, Josh Kerr, and a dozen ski teams doing step-offs, which made paddling difficult, so we made our way to a more manageable break. It was only head high, but coming up quickly, and within an hour, it was double overhead. For the next 48 hours, it was non-stop tubes everywhere. The kind of days that make it hard to leave.” Photo: Catalano

Photo: Catalano

Photo: Catalano

Damien Hobgood. Photo: Catalano

Matt Myers, free-falling. Photo: Catalano

“Most of the time, when we get those high pressure systems in the right places, the waves never cooperate,” says SURFER Photographer Tom Carey. “But that wasn't the case last week. It was like 100 degrees in Baja, with the conditions you dream of. Colin Moran. Photo: Carey

Photo: Carey

Ghost-riding the whip on a vacant gem. Photo: Carey

“The wind stayed offshore through all tides, and it gave most of the waves a good window to shine,” says Carey. “That was the case everywhere last week, I think." Creed McTaggart. Photo: Carey